Raymond Noon’s life is full of self-doubt, crippling social self-awareness, and… cardboard. It is within this setting that we explore the impact that social anxiety takes on our washed-up protagonist and on those closest to him. Director and playwright Dylan Marsh has spawned a horribly accurate tragicomedy – The Worry Monster – which was unleashed onto the audiences at Edinburgh Fringe Festival last month.
What made the semi-surrealist masterpiece even more enjoyable was the knowledge that a lot of its inspiration was drawn from some of the most exciting sources. For example, the soundtrack reminded me of the musical accompaniment to films like Juno and 500 days of Summer – both of which are critically acclaimed for their chart topping compilations – plus, the dialogue made reference to indie music’s favourite godfathers: Simon & Garfunkel. It wasn’t just the music that paid tribute to the classics, though. Marsh’s characterisation (especially of Raymond’s mother, who is the source of most of the play’s morbid hilarity) was a pleasant reflection on some of Tarantino’s best work. The combination of these references and styles surely quenched the thirst of my inner angsty teenager!
Dylan Marsh has written and directed another play called The Waiting Room which was performed at Stage@Leeds last year. In an interview before the opening show, Marsh explained that his most recent production does employ some of the techniques he has previously used, except this time his work is largely autobiographical – a brave endeavour at the best of times but one that is pulled off excellently in this instance.
An inspired director has offered an interesting, new and much needed comment on the subject of mental health here. What is best about it; is that Marsh hasn’t attempted to give any condescending self-help tips I the form of a quirky play but instead presents his own experience just to let all those suffering from social anxiety know that they are not alone even when they may feel it most. The Worry Monster is somehow comforting and yet not at all reassure at the same time. Its closing line puts it in better words than I could; “at last, everything and nothing was all ok”. The delightfully dark Worry Monster was performed at Paradise at Augustines, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Image: Aireborne Theatre Leeds